OLYMPIC super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is set to make his professional debut at the O2 Arena in October, after joining promoter Eddie Hearn’s burgeoning Matchroom stable.
Joshua completed a rapid rise to prominence when he clinched Team GB’s 29th and final gold medal at the London 2012 Games, beating Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle on countback, just four years after reluctantly taking up the sport at Finchley Amateur Boxing Club.
But the 23-year-old has now left the British Amateur Boxing Association’s world class performance programme and will hope his next fight is in front of a sell-out crowd at the 20,000-capacity venue in Greenwich on 5 October.
Great Britain performance director Rob McCracken said: “Anthony is a very talented sportsman who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become Olympic champion, less than four years after he first began boxing.
“Naturally, it is a disappointment for us that Anthony has decided his future lies away from the GB Boxing programme, but he departs with our very best regards and we wish him every success in his future career.”
Joshua described his Olympic journey as a “life experience”, with his triumph at a packed ExCel Arena coming less than 18 months after he was handed a 12-month community order for possession of cannabis with intent to supply and sentenced to complete 100 hours unpaid work.
Following last year’s gold medal win Joshua outlined his intention to remain in the amateur ranks and fight at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
However, the 6ft 6in star has become the fourth member of the Team GB squad to turn professional, following captain Thomas Stalker, Olympic bantamweight champion Luke Campbell and middleweight bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo.
■ Joined Finchley ABC as an 18-year-old in 2007, having never boxed before
■ Won the Haringey Box Cup title in 2009 and 2010
■ Crowned Olympic super-heavyweight champion at London 2012 Olympics
■ Signed professional deal with Matchroom Sport yesterday